One Big Apple Christmas
A Holiday Short Sequel to His Secret Daughter
Book 2 of Big Apple Blessings
A New York City-based trilogy of inspirational romance
"I didn't want to do it this way."
Her words broke through the haze of his incessant multi-tasking and quieted his movements. As usual, he’d been talking to Melinda while he was also responding to this morning’s email from his latest big shark client. She’d been doing most of the talking, so as long as he responded with an “mm hmm” at the appropriate times, his 100% attention was not required.
At least that’s what he thought, until he heard those words. Those words dragged his attention away from his work.
Focusing on the phone propped to his ear with a shoulder, he asked, "Do what, babe?"
Her exasperated sigh filled his ear.
The glow of the computer screen on his desk distracted him. He switched it off. The attraction of his client's new advertising campaign papers sitting face-up on his desk was too strong, so he flipped them over, only blank white pages now. "I'm sorry, Melinda. I'm all yours now."
Her tired chortle held an ironic tone. "What a coincidence."
Tony drew a hand over his eyes. "You know it's rough when you call me at work. I'm ADD to the hilt. But you've got my full attention now." He waited. “Go ahead.”
Another exhale came over the phone line. "I can't do it anymore, Tony."
A sliver of apprehension permeated his heart. What had he missed while he was sidetracked? "Do what, baby?"
A pause. "This. Us. You and me."
He shook his head, dislodging the phone from its perch. He grabbed it before it clattered to his desk and lowered his voice, eyeing his open office door. "You're breaking up with me?"
She made a small gasp, and he could tell tears were on their way. Dang.
"We've had a lot of fun, and you're a great guy, but we just want different things in life."
He laid his head back against the chair, his eyes searching the ceiling. How many breakups involved that tired old line? Weren't all the memories they'd shared worth something?
"We're at different stages," she continued .
No, no. He interrupted, "You tell me what to do, Melinda, and I'll do it. Seriously. You think I don't know my faults? I'm stubborn, I don't always listen, I can be a smart-alec."
She started to interject but he kept going, on a roll now. He could get through to her and change her mind, he knew he could. "But I can work on those things. And be honest, some of those things are actually what you love most about me, right?" He waited for a response, but she was into full-fledged tears and nose sniffs now. His voice took on a pleading tone, much to his dismay. "Baby, come on, now. Eight months. You want to throw eight months away?"
She drew a ragged breath. "I don't, but I think it's the best thing."
Jealousy pierced his temple with a sharp throb. "Is there another guy? Have you met someone else?" He tried to control his voice, keeping it as even as possible.
She sighed in frustration. "No. But at my age, I can't waste time. You and I want different things in life. You've already had your family. I haven't. And you don't want to start over, do you?"
He hesitated, thinking of his teenage son and daughter in Connecticut, living happily with their mother, their long visits with him every summer, their short visits every month. Of course, he didn't want to start over. Babies? He shuddered.
"Do you?" She was pushing it now, finding her strength. His silence answered in place of words. "See? We get along, we have fun, but that's not enough. I want to get married. I want to have kids. And you don't want any part of that."
His mind raced, looking for an argument, but how could he come up with one? She was right. What could he say? "I'm sorry, sweetheart."
"I know. We made a good pair."
"We sure did. There's never going to be another one like you." His voice broke. Had she noticed?
"Look, let's not make this too hard. I’ve got some stuff in your kitchen, and probably a few things in your closet.”
Yeah, like that horrid ginger tea she loved to make after dinner. And her fuzzy socks she liked to slip on when they were watching TV together.
“I'll come over while you're at work, get my stuff and leave the key."
His heart started to race as he leaned forward in the chair. She’d been thinking about this breakup. Made plans. Letting him know was just the final item on her To Do List. How long had he been in the dark? Had she been planning this for days? Weeks?
"We can't even see each other again? Say good-bye? You're just sneaking out of my life like a thief in the night?" He braced against an unaccustomed prick of tears in his eyes.
A short pause made him think she'd reconsider. Then, "I think it's better this way, Tony." She drew a deep breath. "But I wish you the best in finding whatever, whoever it is that will make you happy."
He let the breath he'd captured in his lungs escape. He wondered if there was truly a woman out there who wanted the same things he did. And if so, how would he ever find her? "You too, babe. I'm jealous of the lucky jerk who gets you."
"Hey! That's my future husband you're talking about."
He tried to deliver an obligatory chuckle at her attempt at humor. Their conversation died on the vine, and she finally whispered her good-byes and hung up. He held on to the receiver, the urge to slam it down fierce. He stared at the far wall of his office, minutes ticking by while his head spun. The anger passed and instead, Tony laid the phone on his desk. Gently, like laying a sleeping baby in a crib.
Another one bites the dust.